(From Goodreads) Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
I loved the idea that the whole story is based on the surrounding circumstances of a train ride, where Rachel happens to see something that she shouldn’t have. This whole idea is terrifyingly good; because everyone has in one time of their life caught a train and looked outside the window. As Rachel catches the train every day from Ashbury to London and returns in the afternoon, we learn that she has a disconcerting obsession with a couple “Jason and Jess”, whose house she passes on her train commute. And as she gazes out of the window she witnesses something that she shouldn’t have. These blend of every normal activity, catching the train and then with the mysterious element is one thing that I like about the book. It’s a good premise for a thriller. Who hasn’t gazed from a train window and imagined the lives of others?
Your sympathies and suspicions shift as the story develops. Rachel’s alcoholism is a plot device and not an illness, as it keeps the story going forward and thickening with drama, because you know she knows something but she can’t recall it because she has no memory of that night when she had been drinking. You are pulled into the story, as Rachel tries to put her fractured pieces of her mind back together and the conclusion is a twist that should leave you waiting for Hawkins next novel, because it was such a great ending.
The book explores power, betrayal, relationships, while ratcheting tension.
Overall it was a great book.